How to create an authentic candidate experience

‘They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel’. It’s an age-old saying which we all know to be true.

When it comes to recruiting, provide a bad candidate experience, and your brand and reputation are at stake.

We’re in an era where you must engage your prospective talent and provide them with an experience of your organization that is both meaningful and consistent.

All candidates – whether you end up hiring them or not – should be treated with the same care and respect you would give to your customers.

Why? Because in today’s war for talent, organizations which go the extra mile and market themselves effectively to prospective and existing candidates will attract the best of the best.

Once an afterthought, the candidate experience is now regarded as a crucial part of an employer brand strategy. There is even an annual awards ceremony that celebrates companies who offer great candidate experiences – the CandE Awards.

Savvy companies know this and are turning their recruiting teams into powerful People Marketeers to ensure a positive and authentic experience is provided throughout the recruitment process.

So how can you ensure you are providing a strong candidate experience from start to finish, and avoid the pitfalls that so many companies still seem to fall into? Here are 5 ways to ensure an authentic and compelling candidate experience.

1. Walk in the candidate’s shoes

It’s important to know what your current candidate experience is like; this will give you your starting point and make it easier to identify areas for improvement.

So, if you’ve never applied for a job at your own company, try it!

Notice how much or little communication there is throughout the process, and how easy or difficult is it to find the information you want and apply for a role at your company.

At the end of the process, figure out how the whole experience has left you. Are you feeling valued and engaged with the company? If you were a prospective employee would you want to work at your organization?

As you continue to evolve and review the recruitment process, keep the candidate’s experience front and center always. This will really help you design a strong candidate journey.

2. Provide the right balance between human and automated interaction

Yes, chatbots and automated replies to applicants are a tremendous resource in today’s time-poor work environment but they don’t create much of a connection between a candidate and your company.

Chatbots and automated replies do have a place, and for larger organizations dealing with multiple applicants there is more of an acceptance from a candidate that this is now the way they may be communicated via, at least in the early stages of the application process.

However, if there is no human interaction until the interview itself, your candidates are likely to feel disengaged and no real connection with your brand.

Worse still is if an applicant fails to make it through to the interview stage and receives an automated response saying they have not been successful. If someone has taken the time to apply for a role at your company, the least you can do is send a personal communication explaining they haven’t made the interview shortlist this time but thank them for their interest in the position and wish them all the best with their job search.

A failed applicant now could be a potential employee in the future.

3. Enrol employees in the process

Having everyone in the company enrolled in the process will ensure a much stronger and authentic candidate experience.

For a start, company employees are a great source of referrals; they know exactly what kind of person will be a good fit for the company culture and can recommend potential new recruits.

Your people have also been through your recruitment process so if you’re looking to improve it, ask them what would have made the experience better for them. Invite team leaders to be part of the recruitment process, from devising the job advert through to the application and interview stages.

It’s important that team leaders can start to build a rapport with candidates at an early stage to help with the hiring decision later on.

4. Make sure your interview questions are fit for the twenty-first century

There are numerous age-old interview questions that still get dusted off and asked during an interview that really have no relevance or bearing in today’s modern working world.

A great interview should be a two-way communication between the candidate and the recruiter. It should feel relaxed and not forced.

Preparing a few well-thought-out, scenario-based questions is a great place to start. Questions that enable the candidate to elaborate on past examples of when they’ve done something that shows they have certain skills or attributes you’re looking for in this role works really well.

Being a great listener during the interview is a vital part of the interviewer’s role and putting the candidate at ease. Allow them time to ask questions too and ensure you’ve given them a great understanding of the company and the role so that they can be left with a clear idea of exactly what the company culture is.

5. Seek candidate feedback

The best way to find out if you are delivering a genuine and valuable candidate experience is to ask the candidates themselves.

Just as the prospective applicant may request feedback on their application or interview, you as the recruiter should do the same and ask candidates to provide feedback on the whole experience.

This could be verbal feedback in person or over the phone, or in the form of a survey or questionnaire.

You want to collate feedback from a mix of both successful and unsuccessful candidates to reflect a true picture of your recruitment process.

Get the candidate experience right and it will pay dividends

The candidate experience has a strong impact on how people will feel about your brand.

If you get it wrong and a candidate feels they have had a negative experience, 46% of candidates say they will take their alliance, product purchases and relationship somewhere else, according to research by the CandE Awards.

However, get it right, and you will create engaged and loyal employees, willing to do their best work.

Remember, every potential applicant who interacts with your company is either a brand ambassador or a brand detractor, depending on their experience with your organization.

Don’t miss out on attracting and retaining the best talent because of a poor candidate experience. Invest in your marketing and recruitment strategy to create experiences that attract – and keep – the best.

Discover how to use People Marketing to attract, hire and retain top talent. Download our whitepaper on the 5 steps of People Marketing. 

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